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August 3, 2012

A Chat with Our Friend, Councilmember Muriel Bowser

Sunday, August 5th is National Friendship Day and there is no better friend to the community than District of Columbia Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4). Councilmember Bowser is not a remote presence in the Wilson Building but is involved constantly in the life and needs of her constituents –her neighbors. She is also a solid friend of Food & Friends and is a regular Thanksgiving volunteer. Ward 4 is just across the street from our building and Food & Friends is proud to serve Ms. Bowser’s ward and every ward in the District of Columbia.

We asked Councilmember Bowser to share with us her views on this neighborhood, her work and her commitment to Food & Friends.

Councilmember Muriel Bowser with
Food & Friends Board Member Anne Shimabukuro
packing Thanksgiving meals.
Source: Office of Ward 4 Councilmember Bowser
What inspired you to run for public office in DC and what do you hope to accomplish as a member of the DC Council? 

I was raised in a family rich with civic mindedness. My dad was a longtime ANC commissioner, but both of my parents really instilled the idea of public service. I followed my dad’s footsteps and ran for commissioner in ANC 4B09 in my home neighborhood of Lamond Riggs. I received my Bachelors of Arts degree in History from Chatham College and my Master’s degree in Public Policy from American University here in DC. I strive every day to provide strong service to the 80,000 residents of Ward 4 and pride myself on always being connected. 

As a steadfast supporter of Food & Friends, what attracted you to our mission?

Food & Friends does vitally needed work for its clients. I really shudder to think how the District’s critically ill residents would survive without the services provided by Food & Friends and your impressive and always dedicated cadre of volunteers. Yes, we do share a neighborhood, but more importantly, we share a commitment to helping those in need.

You have spent the last few Thanksgivings volunteering with us. What is that experience like?

Short of being with my family on Thanksgiving, nothing warms my heart more than to be involved in helping ready Thanksgiving dinners for Food & Friends clients and seeing your volunteers, old and new.  There is such a close bond among those assembled and a genuine camaraderie between people who quite likely are meeting for the first time.

What is your advice for people who want to get involved in the DC community but don’t know how?

What a good question. First and foremost, I believe it’s important to know who you want to help and how.  Thank god for the internet and social media. Both make the task of finding out who needs help so much easier. And then here in DC in every Ward, regular monthly meetings occur on matters involving public safety (PSA and CAC meetings) as well as on topics of general community concern (ANC and Civic/Community Association meetings). Go to one of these meetings. You’ll quickly meet regular attendees and learn of ways you can become more involved.

We are proud to work and serve in the Fort Totten neighborhood. As a leader in the development of this neighborhood, what would you like to see happen here over the next five years?

I am proud of the ever changing landscape of the Fort Totten and Lamond Riggs Neighborhoods and have been pleased to help shepherd the soon to be finished transportation infrastructure improvements at the intersection of South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road NE. I look forward to a day in the not too distant future when land that formerly housed the Tiger Mart shopping center will be a hub of new retail, dining and housing options for current and hopefully many new residents. Food & Friends location at this intersection, in my eyes, can only win more and more awareness as a result of this change in landscape.

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